VISIT OF THE ABYSS OF PADIRAC
Where is the Gouffre de Padirac?
Stay near the largest underground in France
Less than 50 km away, the Gouffre de Padirac, the most famous in Europe, is considered one of the greatest geological sights in France with its underground river, making it a must-see site for your holiday in Dordogne.
Fascinating, its visit takes place in two stages: one by boat on the underground river, the other on foot through the caves and cathedrals of concretions. All generations are charmed by the unreal and timeless decor formed by stalactites, stalagmites, waterfalls and columns of calcite.
Padirac chasm: the must-sees
On vacation at the Temps de vivre campsite, you will be only 47 km from the famous Padirac chasm, the first underground site in France. The descent into the 100 m deep cave and the boat ride on the underground river will remain among your best vacation memories.
Very easy to reach, the chasm is less than an hour's drive away by the departmental roads.
The direct route takes you through Souillac and Miers before arriving at the site's parking lot.
It takes you close to the ornate cave of Rouffignac, also called the cave of 100 mammoths: a good idea for a combined visit, why not do it on your return from the chasm.
The chasm is more than 100 m long, accessible by a metal staircase, and welcomes more than 400,000 visitors per year. The area open to the public, more than a km long, will allow you to better understand how unique the 1st underground site in France is in more ways than one.
This village of less than 200 inhabitants is too often overshadowed by the natural cavity that bears its name. Yet, strolling around the church of Padirac and its surroundings on the tracks of the dolmens, provides a very pleasant feeling of well-being.
Loubressac, less than 10 minutes drive from Padirac, is one of the charming villages of the Lot. It has 2 historical monuments (Saint-Jean-Baptiste church, Maday bridge), a private castle and several dolmens.
Hiking in the Quercy
If you want to go hiking after visiting the Padirac chasm, head to the Regional Natural Park of the Causses du Quercy. It covers 185,500 hectares and has several marked hiking trails suitable for all walkers.
Water activities in the Dordogne Valley
Canoeing, kayaking, swimming, boat rides: the Dordogne Valley is an idyllic place for river water activities.
Most asked questions about the Padirac chasm
If you are visiting for the first time the Padirac chasm, it involves getting information beforehand to visit the site serenely. We've put together all the information you need to know, in the form of FAQs. We answer these recurring questions, which the majority of visitors ask themselves: waiting time, length of the visit, possibility of taking photos, etc. What about people in wheelchairs? What about pregnant women? Parking lots? Pets? Find out all the answers through this practical information.
How long does it take to visit the Padirac chasm in its entirety?
It takes about an hour and a half to undertake a visit to the Padirac chasm. To begin with, the descent into the natural cavity is done via the stairs or the elevator. Then, you emerge into the underground galleries that are accessible to the public. Upon arrival at the reception hall, an audioguide will be given to each visitor. Available in several languages, including 6 languages for adults (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Dutch) and 4 languages for children under 16 (French, English, Spanish and Dutch). In addition, children can take advantage of specific content that is part of a fun visit to the chasm. Following the descent into the Pit, the tour begins with a crossing of the underground river. You can talk with your boatman along the water over a distance of 2 km round trip, the first kilometer of which takes place in a boat.
Can we take pictures during the tour?
Indeed, it is possible to take photos throughout the walking tour, as long as you do not use a flash. On the other hand, from the boat ride, photographs and videos are prohibited for safety and comfort reasons. The same goes for selfie poles, which are prohibited on the entire Padirac Chasm. This way, everyone will be able to focus on the essentials.
How long can the wait before the visit take?
It depends on several parameters, namely the period, the weather, etc. If you come during the vacations, you should wait in line for quite a while due to the strong influence. In the off-season, you won't have to wait long. By the way, it should be noted that the Padirac Chasm welcomes more than 480,000 visitors every year. If you plan to come in high season, it is advisable to book your ticket online, allowing you to have access to queue-cutting tickets, both practical and smart to visit in the best conditions.
Is reservation required?
No, you can come directly to the site to visit the Gouffre, without booking in advance. However, reservations are essential to avoid waiting in line during busy periods.
Can we visit the Gouffre de Padirac on public holidays?
As a tourist site, the Chasm is open every day, mainly between Easter and All Saints' Day, even on holidays. However, opening hours vary depending on the season.
How much walking do you have to do in the Gouffre? Does it require a good physical condition?
The Gouffre de Padirac being a shaft, or even a natural cavity, is 75 meters deep with over 103 meters of galleries underground. To get there, the total number of steps that make up the staircase is 543, although you have the option of using the elevator to descend to the bottom of the Chasm. The large Dome room has nearly 300 steps, 150 to climb and 150 to descend. At least, you can skip this area, and go straight back to the landing.
What about the organization of parking spaces, handicapped spaces, and motor home spaces?
When you come to visit the Gouffre, know that all parking is free. Right next to the reception pavilion, you have handicapped spaces. Motorhomes can also park there, but the parking lot is not intended for emptying.
If we come by motorcycle, where can we store our helmet, jacket?
Bikers who come to visit the site can not deposit their equipment with the reception, for security reasons. Indeed, it has no locker or checkroom, and even the parking lot is not monitored. It is up to each biker to make arrangements to secure their helmets, jackets, gloves and motorcycle boots or shoes.
Is it possible to eat at the Gouffre de Padirac?
The Auberge, which is the restaurant at the Chasm, offers family-style cooking if you want to eat at the site. On the menu, local dishes, cooked with regional products, snacks and basket meals to take away according to your preferences. The Inn is open all year round for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Depending on the season, the snack bar offers sandwiches, burgers, croque-monsieur and ice cream. In the heart of the wooded park, the open-air snack bar will whet your appetite. Picnic areas are also available on site for visitors wishing to picnic after the visit.
Are pets allowed?
Pets are not allowed at Padirac Chasm. However, there are pet boarding facilities near the site to drop off your pet.
Depending on the weather and temperature, what is the proper attire to visit the Chasm?
Like all chasms, Padirac's is equipped with air conditioning set at 13 °C all year round. In case of high heat, the presence of this device is particularly advantageous, as well as in the rainy season when the weather is not kind. In these cases, remember to wear a long-sleeved coat, preferably a waterproof garment for protection. Inside the Gouffre, there is a lot of seepage, which allows rain to enter the underground galleries. As for shoes, those designed for walking, such as sneakers and hiking boots, are recommended due to the humidity of the area.
What to do for people prone to vertigo and claustrophobia
Only descending could expose you to vertigo. Also, you are free to take the elevator. As far as claustrophobia is concerned, its degree varies depending on the individual. Although you are underground, the rooms are rather spacious. If you are slightly claustrophobic, you should be fine.
Are pregnant women accessible?
It is quite possible to visit the Gouffre de Padirac for pregnant women, it does not represent any danger. They simply need to be able to walk 70 steps.
At what age are children allowed to visit?
The site is accessible to all ages. However, you should not come with strollers for toddlers. It is best to leave this equipment in the trunk of your vehicle. Instead, use a baby carrier.